Tag: International Basketball


Rockets rookie Parsons signs with French team

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Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports has the story:

Rockets rookie F @ChandlerParsonsagrees to contract with France Cholet with an NBA out as early as Oct. 3, agent Mark Bartelstien tells Y!.

The 6-10 Florida alum was taken by the Rockets with the 38th overall pick in the draft, and was named the SEC player of the year in his final season with the Gators. Parsons’ versatility for a big man should make him a good fit overseas, but I’m sure the Rockets would like to see him practicing with their team the instant the lockout gets resolved.

Bargnani and Gallinari central figures in mini arms race between Italian clubs

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If the Pau Gasol trade proved anything it’s that the owners and operators of basketball teams are, occasionally to a fault, reactionary thinkers. Once the dominoes begin falling, some GMs just can’t help themselves, and before they know it they’ve traded a successful offensive system and a versatile two-way player for an aging Shaquille O’Neal. Or more recently: they’ve liquidated half of their roster for the sake of getting another star to put alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, in no small part due to the glut of talent collected by another team in the conference.

The same reactionary patterns seem to hold true in Lega Basket A, Italy’s top league, with both a potential inciting acquisition and a likely reactionary move centered around NBA talent. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Sportando and Yahoo’s Scoop Du Jour blog), Olimpia Milano (also called Emporio Armani Milano), one of the most storied teams in Italian basketball, is considering capitalizing on the lockout by bringing back Danilo Gallinari. That consideration has made the thinking of another Italian club, Montepaschi Siena, even more cut-and-dry; Montepaschi had reportedly already been preparing to make a run at Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani to bolster their roster, but the possibility of another Lega A team securing NBA talent would make that decision even easier. Montepaschi’s interest in signing Bargnani exists independently of whatever else goes on in Lega A, but that interest is intensified should Milano up the ante by inking Gallo.

For now, the two players are teammates, attempting (along with fellow NBAer Marco Belinelli) to power Italy’s national team through EuroBasket’s preliminary rounds. But it should surprise no one if both Bargnani and Gallinari end up as Lega A rivals in short order.

DeJuan Blair may play in Russia, perceived injury risks be damned

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Among the flood of reported signings, flirtations, explorations, and interest between overseas clubs and NBA players, DeJuan Blair’s name and news don’t create much of a ripple. He’s no Deron Williams, after all; Blair isn’t even a steady NBA regular at this point in his career, having squandered some of the opportunity given him as a member of San Antonio’s limited frontcourt. Yet thanks to Blair’s injury history, the news that he may play professionally in Russia (per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski) has raised a few eyebrows and inspired the internet peanut gallery to take their best collective shot.

The primary risk of international basketball to NBA players is the potential for injury involved. Strange things happen on a basketball court; it’s honestly amazing that serious injuries don’t occur more often with all of the leaping into occupied space that goes on in a competitive game between hyper athletic ballplayers, but those tweaks, sprains, strains, and breaks that do happen are costly nonetheless. Not only does Blair run the risk of a freak injury by playing in Russia, but also the natural wear and tear that comes from a player with no ACLs hitting the non-NBA hardwood. The domestic logic could deem Blair insane; he’s labeled as being injury-prone as it is, and yet he’s likely chosen to spend his time away from the league playing for a team that is not his own while risking serious injury in the process.

Yet injury is an odd reason for Blair or any other player to forgo the chance to play elsewhere during the lockout. The risk of injury/lack of insurance argument can logically apply to NBAers suiting up for their national teams during a typical off-season, but this summer (and now fall) is anything but typical. The void left from a lack of team workouts, training camp, and preseason ball gives players even more incentive to ready their skills in preparation for an NBA campaign that may or may not come. There is no existing schedule or guide for players to ready their bodies for the regular season; negotiations could take a turn on a moment’s notice, and it will be up to Blair and all of his peers to be ready to play professional basketball again, be it in November, in January, or worse.

This decision, should Blair make it, would be a means to that end. Plus, lest we forget, the schedules of foreign leagues aren’t all that different from the NBA’s. Blair will be playing and training, but only in the lack of the playing and training he’d be doing with the Spurs as part of his typical NBA regimen. He — and every other NBA player interested in alternative lockout employment — would be drilling, lifting, or scrimmaging, and all it would take would be the pop of a medicine ball, an awkward fall, or a hard collision to send a training camper to the training room. Basketball is not without its risks, regardless of whether it’s being played in a foreign land or an NBA team’s practice facility. The fact that such an injury would otherwise happen under the watch of an NBA team is functionally irrelevant.

NBA fans have been conditioned to look at extracurricular basketball as an additional risk for NBA players, but let this serve as a reminder that on a normal schedule, American pro ballers would still be putting in work and minutes while risking injury. There’s nothing terribly unique about the risk that Blair runs, while the payoff is rather straightforward. Maintaining good health is crucial for Blair, but so is development, and doesn’t logging floor time — even in another country — make quite a bit of sense at this stage in his career? Particularly when the lockout is depriving him of putting in team-driven developmental time on his home floor?

Wilson Chandler will play in China

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ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande has the story:

Wilson Chandler said he has signed a contract with the Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association, a move that would essentially preclude him from participating in the 2011-12 NBA season if the lockout ends and the games begin.

The Chinese Basketball Association will not allow players with existing contracts to sign with its teams, so playing in China is only an option for free agents such as Chandler, a restricted free agent who finished the 2010-11 season with the Denver Nuggets.

In addition, the CBA will not allow escape clauses that would allow players to leave the Chinese league in the event the NBA resumes operations. So Chandler would not be a part of the NBA if the season begins on time or even with an abbreviated schedule starting in January or February.

“Maybe I’ll lose out,” Chandler said. “But I think it can be a great experience. I haven’t been in any [labor negotiation] meetings. I can’t call it. I’m just taking a risk, at the end of the day.”

Chandler, who averaged over 15 points per game last season but had a horrible playoffs, is one of the first NBA players to effectively give up hope of playing in the NBA due to the possibility of a lockout. Time will tell if Chandler’s move pays off or not, but this could provide some insight as to how pessimistic some players are about the current state of the CBA negotiations.

Ricky Rubio is coming. Will he be good?

Ricky Rubio Barcelona

The good news: Ricky Rubio, the #5 overall pick in the 2009 draft and one of the most dynamic point guard talents in the world, is coming to the NBA and joining the team that drafted him.

The bad news: Rubio really didn’t give Timberwolves fans much to get excited about during his last season with FC Barcelona.

The numbers are ugly: In 23.75 minutes per game last season, Rubio averaged 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 39.2%/22.4%/83.6% shooting, and 1.8 turnovers per game.

Rubio is a big guard who plays great defense and is exceptionally creative in the open floor, two things that will serve him well in the NBA, and FC Barcelona’s style of play didn’t suit Rubio’s game very well. Still, 6.5 points per game on 39% shooting is 6.5 points on 39% shooting.

The most favorable comparisons for Rubio may be Boston’s Rajon Rondo or Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings. Rondo is a big guard, a tremendously creative passer, a two-way player, has a broken jumper, and played in a system that didn’t suit him.

There are issues with both comparisons. As bad as Jennings (who called Rubio “all hype” when both players were in Europe) was in Europe, he didn’t get nearly as much playing time as Rubio did, and had something that Rubio doesn’t currently possess: a smooth jumper, which allowed him to immediately make an impact as a scoring guard in the NBA.

And while Rondo slid far further than he should have in the draft because Kentucky played in a slow-down system that wasn’t tailored towards him, he was still more successful than Rubio was: Rondo averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game during his last season at Kentucky, and shot 48.2% from the field. Like Rubio, Rondo doesn’t have much of a jumper to speak of, but unlike Rubio, Rondo seems to have always known how to score efficiently without having to make many jump shots. Rubio’s stroke is better than Rondo’s, but he may need to make some dramatic leaps as a shooter to be effective as a scorer in the NBA.

Rubio is talented, and the NBA game is dramatically different from the international game, so it’s impossible to make a solid prediction on how Rubio will do in the NBA. But based on what he showed in Barcelona last year, Rubio has given NBA fans plenty to be skeptical about.